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City councilors grilled Española Deputy Police Chief Roger Jimenez for 65 minutes on Tuesday night before refusing to promote him to lead the city’s Public Safety Department. Jimenez previously told a city councilor he would leave the Department if he was not promoted.

The Española City Council refused to promote Deputy Police Chief Roger Jimenez as the leader of the city government’s Department of Public Safety.

Forty-four days after Louis Carlos resigned from the position, Mayor Javier Sanchez on Tuesday formally recommended Jimenez to replace him.

But the City Council voted 5-3 against ratifying Sanchez’s appointment of Jimenez, who immediately gathered his things and left city hall, followed by a group of other police officers.

Jeremy Apodaca, president of the union that represents the officers, said he hopes Jimenez continues to work for the Department as deputy chief.

“But if he doesn’t, that’s understandable too, after what he just had to endure,” Apodaca said.

He was referring to 65 minutes of tense questioning of Jimenez by city councilors about his nine months as a member of the Department so far, his background and why he should be promoted.

Councilor Peggy Martinez questioned Jimenez about text messages between Jimenez, Carlos and Lt. Richard Trujillo, which included derogatory comments about a woman’s appearance. Other messages included jokes about the paternity of another Department officer’s child, and also official Department business.

When Councilor Justin Salazar-Torrez asked Jimenez to describe his greatest failure, he said after a long pause, “the last incident that I was involved with here was probably pretty close to my biggest failure,” referring to the text messages.

“I had an opportunity to stop something and speak up, and I did not do that,” he said.

Jimenez did not challenge Martinez when she said he was put on probationary status by the Department because of the incident. He said he has a letter of reprimand in his personnel file because of it.

“We’re being asked to promote somebody that has a current letter of reprimand in their file,” Martinez said, before looking at Jimenez. “Would you promote somebody in your Department that you had just disciplined?”

“It would all depend on, throughout the investigation, whether that officer took responsibility for their actions,” Jimenez said.

Martinez also asked Jimenez about his handling of a crash between two of his officers that was investigated by a third officer, in violation of Department directives. Accidents involving police vehicles must be documented by an outside agency, however, Jimenez turned away Sheriff’s deputies and New Mexico State Police officers from the scene.

“How can you ask constituents to follow laws and rules when we’re not following them ourselves?” Martinez said.

She said Jimenez lied to her and a Rio Grande SUN reporter about whether the Department had working radar guns.

“Lying is a strong word,” Jimenez said. “I made a mistake. That’s all it was. I was told we didn’t have any radars and that’s why we were purchasing some.”

Jimenez said he gathered letters of recommendations from about 10 different police agencies in the area, including the FBI, New Mexico State Police and the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office.

Upon hearing this, Sheriff James Lujan, sitting in the audience, furrowed his brow and shook his head.

Earlier in the public comment period of the meeting, before councilors went into executive session, Lujan had opposed Jimenez’s promotion.

“I’ve already made several phone calls and my concerns as a constituent, also as a law enforcement officer um, in opposition to the appointment,” Lujan said. “I am opposed to the appointment that looks like it’s gonna be for the deputy chief. The reason for it is (his) experience and I believe the Council and the mayor should open it up for applicants to see if we can get the best qualified person to work with the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department, together.”

The public questioning came after councilors, the mayor and City Attorney A.J. Salazar deliberated Jimenez’s appointment for 30 minutes behind closed doors in executive session. It was the second time the group had met privately about the appointment, according to the City Council's published agendas.

Apodaca said he supported Jimenez’s promotion, and that Jimenez was “the glue holding this Department together.” He said the union has never taken a formal vote on whether to support Jimenez but that a majority of the officers support him “by word of mouth.”

Councilor Denise Benavidez said she had asked Jimenez whether he would continue to work for the Department if he was not promoted.

“Your answer was no,” Benavidez said. “Have you changed your mind?”

“There are a lot of variables,” Jimenez said with a laugh. “To be honest, I cannot foresee right now.”

Interim chief David Osuna recommended Jimenez’s promotion at the April 23 City Council meeting when he told councilors to hire from within and said he had been teaching Jimenez to make what he called chief’s decisions.

At the time, Sanchez said he valued Osuna’s recommendation.

“I think he has the capacity for growth and change to provide a solid foundation for a strong police department that the City of Española deserves,” Sanchez said Tuesday before the City Council meeting. “Our priority is safety and unity. My hope is that we can get there together.”

Councilors Salazar-Torrez, Robert Seeds and John Ricci made up the minority who voted in favor of Jimenez's appointment.

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(6) comments

Same Ol Same Ol

After all these years I now look back from the vantage point of a comfortable easy chair and a retirement that I will leave to my god to decide whether I was worthy of having earned and I am reminded of a line from the movie “Braveheart”: “All men lose heart, all men betray.” How true such ignoble words. As cops, there were many times my comrades and I lost heart and witnessed many an officer who betrayed the badge and their oaths of office. Some sins were larger than others, of course, more “less forgivable”; a term coined long ago for me by a grizzled old, white-haired flat-topped, pipe-smoking, coffee-guzzling obese training sergeant who mused he would likely die alone, unloved by all except his forever-forgiving daughter, for the man he had allowed himself to become because of the job. Every man and woman who has ever had the honor and the burden of wearing a badge knows of that which I speak. Whether it’s the minor act of “flashing the tin” to wheedle out of a speeding ticket or the egregious act of using excessive force simply because “d—nit, he deserved it! Did you see him give me the stink-eye?” or just because it felt good to lord themselves over another in that manner. But there is another sin, one of which I was both witness to and victim of. Vanity. The vanity of those who, without the benefit of proper, formal background of years of training and experience, believe themselves ready to take the reins of leadership simply because they’re in the right place at the right time – “D—n training, d—n experience, d—n maturity. I deserve this because…well, because I’m me and I do”. There’s an old saying that I’m not sure cops these days use anymore: There’s a difference between an officer who has twenty years of experience and an officer who has one year of experience spread over twenty years. If you don’t readily understand what this means, that’s okay. It just means you’ve never been a cop. Not everyone can be, not everyone wants to be, not everyone should be. But any cop worth their salt, at least those amongst the ranks when I wore a badge, knows exactly what it means. And, as I ponder the recent political events surrounding the top cop job in Española, I see the adage as readily applicable as ever and recall another: An egg half prepared will not be eaten, but a man half-prepared who enters politics will be. I look toward the day when a unanimously-decided City Council, after a well-advertised, intensively thought-provoked, exhaustive search throughout the upper/executive administrative ranks of the best New Mexico (and out of state, if necessary) has to offer can finally boast, “We have found a well-trained, well-experienced chief we can all be proud of!” A man (or woman!), who will put aside all, including vanity, to ensure the securing of department pride throughout the rank and file, the confidence of the fair city of Española in the daily performance of its police officers (bottom to top) and the trust of a community that has long-deserved a police department they can be proud of. If he is smart—and I have every reason to believe he is—DC Jimenez will remain with the EPD and stay the course, opening head and heart to such a leader and learn and mature under this person’s tutelage in order to prepare for that one day he, too, may be offered the chief’s badge.

John Martinez

Same Ol, wow you must have a lot of time on your hands to critique every part of this boring news article. You cannot and should not talk about someone's qualifications or experience if you have no idea what these may be. The mistake that you refer to must have not been mistakes, if he was not disciplined or written up for theses actions. Unless he was, I haven't seen these articles either. Also you do not know if he was making the derogatory statements in "his" texts do you? Maybe he was just receiving the texts. But a experience investigator as yourself would have expected this rebuttal and I'm sure you have a very good response to this. Huh? It would seem that you are more than qualified to be Chief and should apply. What you all do not understand is that this will be politics as usual, so now the Councilors will be able to get one of the good ole boy gang to take the COP position and the City of Espanola will continue to suffer, as it has for the last 20 years. How many people you know that have overdosed on heroin? We need to have stability now!!

dnvsldez

Well said! I think Same Ol might be James Lujan! Because he does have a lot of time on his hands and he’s super miserable!

Same Ol Same Ol

I would like to thank and applaud those forward-thinking members of the Española City Council who voted their and their constituents’ conscience to search externally for a qualified Chief of Public Safety. BRAVO! I thank Osuna for his thoughtful insight concerning Jimenez and respect his opinion. That being said, if Jimenez is the best candidate, he shouldn’t fear competing for the position when it’s posted… Apodaca’s remark concerning pity for Jimenez “enduring” a 65 minute public Q&A is puzzling. That is part and parcel (at times daily) to a chief of police (COP) job. Maybe I just missed it, but did the deputy chief (DC) even kindly and humbly thank the council for the honor of their consideration of him for the job? (a “COP-like” response from any worthy candidate, I would think.) Per the article, after the vote, the DC appears to have merely silently scooped up his toys, tucked tail and went home… Quite the immature response from “the glue holding this department together”, I’d say… Jimenez’s answer to his greatest failure: (The recent derogatory text issue) “was probably (really? probably ?) pretty close to my biggest failure”. Essentially, he sidestepped the question: If not this, then what is you biggest failure? (for your own good, DC, take the 5th and please don’t answer that)… No Admin-level Executive in their right mind would even consider the possibility of accepting (let alone considering) the promotion request of a recently disciplined officer; think of the liability issue here, especially considering the subject matter of the DC’s most recent disciplinary action… As DC, he didn’t stand up to his boss, the COP, about the texts. Understandable. Wrong, but understandable. So then what’s the excuse for the DC not standing up to a LT?... I read the DC admitted his “mistake” concerning the radars. Did he humbly and politely apologize?... The DC’s 1st answer to whether he would continue working with EPD if not selected for COP (“No.”). A juvenile, sour apples at best, publicly-stated off-the cuff emotional remark made in the heat of the moment, no doubt. The type of gaffe no trained and experienced COP can afford to make, let alone an in-house COP candidate, for SO many reasons. The DC’s 2nd answer and that noted visual response/facial expression wasn’t much better (“…cannot foresee…”). If nothing else, THAT question is the one the DC should have expected at some point and been the most prepared to properly answer…there is mention in the reader comment section that Jimenez owned up to his mistakes. But did he, really? Did he own up to his wrong statements and recant regarding the Saucedo out-of- jurisdiction arrest? Did he own up to his mishandling and subsequent wrong statements and recant regarding the recent 2-ofcr crash investigation? Don’t know, must have missed those articles… I read no mention of background related to the DC’s city/state/federal recognized formal training and experience. Does he have any? Who cares what other LE or city dept heads have insofar as experience. Are they running for EPD COP?... Again, thank you city council for having the strength of character to stand by your decision after debate and review… Good luck to you with regard to your search. Good luck to all of us.

Keifer

What a crybaby. His actions before and after make me glad they didn't promote him.

John Martinez

Sheriff Lujan neve had any experience prior to his first term as Sheriff, neither did the City Councilors. Chief Jimenez owned up to his mistakes. I wonder when Martinez and Lujan will do the same??

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